Networking has become a crucial aspect of business. It is a socioeconomic activity that allows entrepreneurs and business people to meet, establish business connections, share information, identify and create business opportunities, and find potential partners for business ventures.
Experts at ONLE Networking know that for business owners, networking provides a means of creating relationships with others, in the same or similar fields, that help to extend their business’ reach and potential customer base, as well as enhance their ability to find new partners and grow.
One key aspect of effective networking is getting your name out there. The thought-process here is that the more people you get to meet, the more the people that will come to know and recognise you and your brand. It is therefore essential that you utilise all opportunities, professional and social, to meet and connect with new people.
The following are some compelling reasons why networking is valuable for small businesses.
1. Business Leads
Networking is a highly effective way of acquiring new business leads. By taking advantage of the contacts you make when you meet and engage with other people, you can open many doors for business opportunities.
You need to exercise a high level of professionalism when following up on leads. While people are willing to assist others, they will quickly lose interest if you are constantly badgering them for business. Don’t forget common courtesy and be strategic in your timing when following up with contacts.
2. Discover Best Practices
Networking offers a great opportunity to learn business best practices and identify industry benchmarks. Being eager and willing to learn from what others are doing is sure to benefit your business in more ways than one.
For instance, if you run a restaurant and are a member of a restaurant association, you can identify the latest software programs or employee management practices that you can adopt in your own business.
3. New Business Trends
Through networking, you can stay updated on the latest business trends and cutting edge business technology. These kinds of connections and “inside” information help to give you an edge over your competitors by adopting new and unique ways of doing things.
That being said, it is important to note that networking is a skill, and some people are just good at engaging with strangers and making new friends at first contact.
If networking isn’t your strong suit, then you will need to learn the art of striking up a conversation and also practice being more friendly and approachable. You also need to master the trick of recalling people’s names. Create a system; note down something specific or unique about the person at the back of their business card to help you remember them later on when you get back to your workplace.
4. Improved Confidence
Through frequent networking and constant engagement with strangers, you will gradually increase your confidence and self-esteem, the more you do it. Having confidence is important as a business owner since the success of your business is highly dependent on your ability to talk to people and make connections.
Networking really pushes people to grow and learn how to initiate conversations and establish lasting connections with people they don’t know. Thus, it is highly beneficial to people that aren’t confident.
Success in the business world isn’t about what you know; rather, it is about who you know. If you run a small business, you will need to have a reliable source of powerful connections within your network for your business to grow quickly.
Networking helps to provide the perfect opportunity to engage with highly influential people that you would otherwise not be able to easily find or talk to.
You also have to keep in mind that it’s not only about the person you are networking with – they will also have a network that you can take advantage of. Thus, it is crucial to ask the right questions and find out if who you are networking with can connect you to the person you want to know.